Grandma’s turkey stuffing

Thanksgiving has always been my second favorite holiday because when I was a kid, our family Thanksgiving made me feel a happy-family-ness, warmth, and love that were beyond our Scots-Irish/Norwegian family most of the time. Everyone (I think) felt the culinary highlight was the Thanksgiving turkey stuffing (sometimes called dressing interchangeably). Here’s how I remember it every Thanksgiving and Christmas watching my mom make the stuffing. Mom’s stuffing was identical to Grandma’s, a version she probably brought over from County Down.

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Alice Waters

I hope that everyone knows and admires Alice Waters like I do for her contributions to healthy eating. But in case you’re not clued up, let me enlighten you.

Way back in 1974, my future brother-in-law—a undergrad at Cal Berkeley—took me to Chez Panisse for lunch. It had been open about three years at that point, but I knew or cared nothing about healthy eating then and don’t remember that Alice Waters’ name ever came up. All I knew was that I had the best salad I’d ever tasted. Now, for me, growing up in suburban Chicago, I only knew that a “California burger” meant it had lettuce and tomato on it. How pathetic was that? Little did I know that in lunching at Chez Panisse, I was eating at what will go down in history as one of the great restaurants.

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Doing Keto Defined

This is the simple definition. Keto is an eating hack. By this, I mean it’s something you do to finesse weight loss. It’s not a program you sign up for or pay a subscription fee to. It’s not just another diet that somebody else thought up to take your money. It’s not something you suffer through in order to lose a few pounds that you have it on past experience will show up again later.

Keto is shorthand for choosing ketosis-encouraging food to eat and other food to avoid eating. It’s totally under your control and like I said, it’s an eating hack or body hack. You make choices and your body responds because it has to. No options.

We’ve lost a lot of pounds doing Keto over the past 5+ years and think we understand the mechanics of cooking and eating Keto pretty well. Here, I take a closer look at how eating Keto works to help you create your own approach to Keto.

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The National Eating Disorder

DadsRecipeBox got its start when I decided to pass along family-favorite recipes so the kids could make those same dishes in their own kitchens some day. I also shared home-cooking tips I’d learned since stepping up my cooking activity what with The Queen building her home-based business.

About that time, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and I suddenly had a larger mission. We were in the throes of a “national eating disorder” perpetuated by systemic issues around how we get our food, from the farm all the way to the table. Our family-favorite dishes might be hurting us and our families. I needed to write about this.

From that time until now, DadsRecipeBox has shared info and ideas around three interests: family-favorite recipes, cooking tips from one home cook to another, and the larger world of the food system and its impact on our lives.

Now that a day-job is no longer a distraction, I am diving in to DadsRecipeBox with renewed purpose. I will publish 2-3 posts per week exploring three themes: recipes, home cooking, the food system. I will also produce a book provisionally called Dad Versus the Food System and other, more typical cook books emphasizing healthy cooking and eating. This scratches my publishing itch (see TouchwoodPress.com) while taking up Michael Pollan’s challenge to examine and act on our national eating disorder.

Hope you can join us for the ride.

Grandma’s “Irish cake”

My Irish grandmother, Annie Allen, arrived at Ellis Island in 1909, a twenty-one-year-old with two little boys, four and two, in tow. I can’t imagine. She joined her husband Bill, who’d come ahead two years earlier to work and save money for her passage, Bill had never met his son Sam. Grandma set up house, had two more kids, and lived a long life in her own home, cooking, baking, and tending her garden until she passed in her late 80’s. As a young lad, her youngest grandchild, I relished her “Irish Cake,” sitting with her for tea—a ritual she kept every afternoon around four whether I was there or not. During my time, Grandma’s Irish Cake was a Christmastime deal only. During the rest of the year, we had store-bought Irish Cake wannabe or raisin bread, either from the grocery or home-made.

Irish Cake is variety of soda bread, loved by many. It’s easy and quick to make, but don’t skip on the key ingredients—real good butter, cream of tartar, and especially buttermilk—or you won’t be getting the authentic experience. We never captured her exact recipe, which I’m sure came straight from County Down, where Grandma probably learned it from her mother, Mary Anne McKee. This recipe has been thoroughly tested in Dad’s kitchen and approved for annual consumption by the family.

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Dad’s Holiday Cranberry Relish

My first cook book was a classic, The New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne (Harper & Row, 1961). My ancient, rusty paperclip bookmarks tell the story of why I have kept it all these years. I use the book only a couple of times a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Clipped are Turkey, Stuffings, Mashed Potatoes with Variations, and Cooked Cranberry or Orange Relish.

We love it on the dinner table, but it’s even better as a condiment for turkey sandwiches. Lots more flavor than out-of-a-can.

Now a family must-have, Cranberry Relish uses cooked berries, not raw, and lots of sugar. Get over it. My family won’t let me play with this recipe. Having said that, I am going to be trying Keto-friendly versions to see if any sugar-substitutes have conquered the cool aftertaste issue. Suggestions?

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Yams Richard

New Orleans is one of our favorite places. On our first trip there, in 1977, we visited—through pure luck—two of its greatest restaurants: Antoine’s, where we had pompano en papillote (in a paper bag) and Brennan’s, for its famous breakfast. We took away two Hurricane glasses from Brennan’s, Continue reading

Dad’s Keto Chili

One way to make a long-term Keto diet go down easier is to Keto-ize your old favorite recipes. I mean, duh, right? Now that we are Keto veterans, in-it-to-win-it for the third time (!), I’m more interested than ever in making sure my old favs can still be enjoyed without guilty thoughts and can be modified for Keto and keep their greatness.

Dad’s Keto Chili

Chili has been a mainstay of DRB since the beginning. We started with a cookbook version, tweaked and tried variations over several years, tried our hand competing at a chili cookoff, and now are looking at Dad’s Chili with a fresh eye for its Keto potential. Lose the beer and hold the beans, and you’re most of the way there. Here’s the good news—there’s no need to sacrifice any flavor to make great Keto chili. Try out the recipe and see for yourself.

Note to Dads

This is a great family dish. There are ways the kids can help, or they can just enjoy the goodness and help you build your rep as a dad does wonders in the kitchen. There’s plenty of flavor and nutrition for non-Keto-istas, who can amp up their servings with tortilla chips or corn bread crumbled on top.

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Keto re-re-boot

Yes, we are deep into a Keto diet for the third time. It’s working again, and we have new insights to share. Why did we stray? The pandemic and other priorities like bread-baking, dessert experiments, and new restaurant explorations got us off-track. Sound familiar?

But here we are back on Keto and doing very well, thank you. I’m already ten pounds into a thirty-pounds-by-Thanksgiving goal!

A lot has changed in Keto-land since our last campaign back in 2019. Mostly, there are many new Keto-friendly food products available at major and minor grocery stores and online. Many restaurants have Keto options or at least don’t look strangely at you when you explain you’re on a low-carb diet. We’ll review some of the best here.

We still really like DietDoctor.com for all the basic Keto scoop and a ton of recipes and meal plans. But there are many other sources for Keto recipes and ingredients. And on the food front, much is happening that Keto-istas will find interesting and useful.

We feel like Keto, under strict control, will be our lifestyle and not just another diet from here on.

Think we’re just kidding ourselves? Well, stick around through the Holidays and find out!

Cheers, Dad

Food and our health

For some, food is a means to instant gratification and not much more. But food on a personal level is mostly about health. Garbage in, garbage our, as they say.

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